Saturday, January 01, 2011

In memory of Kitcat...

As I admired our Christmas tree this year, I missed Kitcat. This was our second Christmas without him, without any cat at all. Although there are certain advantages -- no tinsel eaten and no ornaments broken -- I missed having a cat under the tree.

My husband didn't know he had a mild cat allergy when he gave me a kitten many years ago on our first anniversary. Although he loved and enjoyed all four of the cats that followed, he woke up sneezing every morning. Sometime after we took in Kitcat, we agreed that he would be the last.

We found Kitcat in our apartment complex, lost and scared. Our son Michael named him. With a typical middle-schooler's sense of humor (and love of candy), Michael thought this homophonic name was rather clever.

Kitcat lived with us for 13 years. He hated it when we went away and scolded us when we returned. He became part of our daily life and imposed himself on every activity.

On August 22, 2009, Kitcat died of kidney failure, formally known as Chronic Renal Failure (CRF).  In his memory I'd like to share some of the things I learned.

1. Get annual checkups
Regular annual checkups are really important.  Make sure your veterinarian includes blood tests for kidney function. While there is no cure for CRF, an early diagnosis may enable you slow the progress of the disease.  The daily subcutaneous fluids we gave Kitcat didn't extend his life as much as we hoped.  His variety of CRF seemed unusually virulent.  However, the fluids kept him hydrated, helped flush some of the toxins out of his system, and seemed to eased his discomfort.  We also administered injections of Pepcid (he wouldn't swallow the pills) which kept his nausea under control and increased his appetite until the last week or so.

Early detection can extend your cat's life.  Working with your vet to manage his disease will definitely improve the quality of your cat's life.

2. Familiarize yourself with Chronic Renal Failure (CRF)
The single most informative website I can recommend is Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Renal Failure. The woman responsible for this site presents extremely readable information from the pet owner's point of view. She also moderates a Yahoo Group called Tanya's CRF Support Group. Join the group as soon as you even suspect your cat has kidney symptoms.

Here are some other websites that were particularly helpful:

3. Make a plan for the end
Having a plan for the end will avoid a crisis at a time when a vet isn't available to ease the cat's suffering. Again, Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Renal Failure was spot on. We decided to have an at-home euthanasia. I called several vets who provide this service and picked the one that seemed most able to come on short notice.

Unless you live alone with your cat, you will want to confer with other family members about CRF management and how to handle your cat's demise. If other family members view you as the pet expert, they may be hesitant to push for a different course of action or to question your judgment. If you view yourself as the primary caretaker, you may find it hard to really listen to what they have to say. Whatever the circumstance, try your best to talk it through and find common ground.

Enough advice.  I want to close this post with thoughts of Kitcat himself -- his luxuriously thick fur, his lovely yellow eyes, and his contented purr.  He was a very beautiful cat, very affectionate too.  His neediness could be annoying, but it was nonetheless very gratifying. Since he was my last cat, I'm glad there was never any doubt that he loved me. Maybe it's my imagination, but I think he sensed my deep affection for him as well.

 Goodbye Kitcat.  RIP

With special thanks to my son, Michael Hood,
for use of his wonderful pictures.

© 2011, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement


Cathy Hornberger said...

Poor sweetie, I'm sure he knew you loved him. Beautiful pictures!

Jessica said...

Very beautiful indeed! RIP Kitcat--may you be surrounded by catnip and comfy sitting places!

Anita Salzberg said...

So sorry to read about Kitcat. He sounds truly special. We lost our two 18-year old cats this fall and winter. And we just couldn't bear to live without feline companionship. So we adopted two shelter cats. ( And life is cat-lucious again. Anita